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Case Study

Papa Murphy’s


Papa Murphy’s, based in Vancouver, WA, is one of the nation’s largest franchisors and operators of take ‘n’ bake pizza stores. The award-winning chain sells fresh, made-to-order pizzas that consumers bake at home. In 2004, John Barr, a board member of a prior Charlesbank portfolio company and a friend of the Papa Murphy’s founder, approached us about leading a recapitalization of the company. John had been in discussions with the founder about bringing in an equity partner to provide liquidity for the existing shareholders and strategic guidance for the next stage of growth.


After conducting exclusive negotiations with the Papa Murphy’s founder and CEO, we structured and led a leveraged recapitalization of the business. Recognizing the strength of the relationship and opportunity, the founders and management retained a significant ownership stake by co-investing in the transaction.

Charlesbank Role

Executive Team: Helped management recruit several key executives to support John Barr as CEO, and added an experienced quick-service restaurant executive to board of directors

Strategy Development: Worked closely with management to refine Papa Murphy’s long-term growth plan, including increasing store count and same-store sales levels

Geographic Expansion: Focused on new market selection and entry strategy, as well as franchisee recruitment, increasing store count by almost 50%

Operational Improvements: Supported management in efforts to improve existing store operations through new products, increased marketing and investment in technology and store upgrades


During our ownership, Papa Murphy’s enjoyed unprecedented success: increased its store count from approximately 800 to nearly 1,200; achieved six consecutive years of positive same-store sales; nearly doubled system-wide sales; and more than doubled revenue and EBITDA while generating sufficient free cash flow to pay down all its initial transaction debt. The company also won numerous industry awards, including Restaurant and Institutions’ “Best Pizza Chain in America” each year. After a nearly six-year hold, we sold Papa Murphy’s to a financial sponsor in 2010.

Key Team Members
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